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Roman Religion

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  1. Roman Religion • Augustus revived traditional Roman religious festivals and ceremonies to bring back the Roman state religion. • It focused on the worship of a number of gods and goddesses—including Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, and Mars—based on the Greek Olympian deities. • Beginning with Augustus, emperors often were declared gods.

  2. Jupiter

  3. Minerva

  4. Mars

  5. Roman Religion • The Romans believed that observing the proper rituals brought them into a right relationship with the gods, which guaranteed peace and prosperity. • They also believed that their success at empire building meant the gods favored them.

  6. Roman Religion • The Romans were tolerant of local religions and worship. • Many Romans were drawn to the religions of the eastern areas they had conquered. • These religions gave a more spiritual experience to them, promised entry into a higher reality, and taught of a life after death superior to the present one.

  7. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • By A.D. 6, Judaea, which covered the lands of the ancient kingdom of Judah, was a Roman province under the direction of a procurator. • Unrest was common in Judaea, even among factions of Jews.

  8. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Among the Jews, the Sadducees counseled cooperating with the Romans, the Essenes awaited a Messiah who would save Israel from oppression and establish a paradise on Earth, and the Zealots advocate overthrowing Roman rule. • A revolt begun in 66 was crushed by the Romans, who destroyed the temple in Jerusalem.

  9. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Jesus, a Jew, began to preach in the midst of this conflict. • Jesus taught that inner transformation was most important, not adhering to laws or rituals. • He claimed that the Golden Rule summed up the Jewish teachings.

  10. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • He commanded that we love God and love each other, treating all as our neighbors. • Jesus taught the virtues that would be the basis of medieval Western civilization: humility, charity, and love of others.

  11. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • The Judaeans turned Jesus over to the Romans as a subversive because they thought he might cause people to revolt against Rome.

  12. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • The procurator, Pontius Pilate, ordered his crucifixion.

  13. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Followers of Jesus believed he overcame death, however. • Many Jewish followers believed he was the Messiah who had come to save Israel.

  14. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Simon Peter was a prominent figure in early Christianity.

  15. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Peter and the other disciples taught that Jesus was the Savior and Son of God who had come to Earth to save all people. • Jesus’ death could make up for people’s sins and offer them salvation.

  16. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Another prominent leader was Paul of Tarsus. • Paul followed Jesus’ command to preach the gospel to both Jews and non-Jews, or Gentiles.

  17. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • He founded many Christian communities in Asia Minor and along the Aegean Sea. • After word spread that Jesus had overcome death, people converted in droves. • Only 60 days after his crucifixion, Jerusalem alone had ten thousand converts. • Paul wrote letters (epistles) to Christian communities and other disciples may have written down Jesus’ sayings.

  18. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Between A.D. 40 and 100, these became the basis of the written Gospels (“the good news”). • The Gospels tell of Jesus’ life and teachings, and form the basis of the New Testament, the second part of the Christian Bible.

  19. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Christianity’s basic values differed from Greco-Roman values. • Even so, at first the Romans paid little attention to the spread of Christianity. • That attitude changed.

  20. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Romans came to see Christianity as harmful to public order and morals because Christians would not worship the Roman gods. • This was an act of treason, a capital crime. • Christians believed, however, in one God only and that worshipping false gods would endanger their salvation.

  21. The Jewish Background and The Rise of Christianity • Roman persecution of Christians began under Nero (A.D. 54–68), who blamed them for the fire that burned much of Rome. • He subjected them to cruel deaths. • Until the end of the next century, persecution lessened, though it continued to a degree. • By the end of the rule of five good emperors, Christians made up a small but strong minority.

  22. The Triumph of Christianity • Roman persecution strengthened Christianity by forcing it to become more organized. • The emerging control over Christian communities by bishops was important to this change. • The Christian Church was creating a distinction between the clergy (church leaders) and the laity (everyday church members).

  23. The Triumph of Christianity • For a number of reasons, Christianity grew steadily. • First, it was more personal than the Roman religion and offered eternal life and salvation. • Second, it was familiar because it was like other religions that offered immortality through the sacrificial death of a savior-god.

  24. The Triumph of Christianity • Third, it fulfilled the human need to belong. • Christians formed communities based on love and care. • Christianity was especially attractive to the poor and powerless. • Everyone, regardless of status, could gain salvation and all were equal in the eyes of God.

  25. The Triumph of Christianity • Emperors in the third century began new waves of persecution, ending with the great persecution by Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century.

  26. The Triumph of Christianity • Christianity was too strong for force to destroy it, however. • Christianity prospered in the fourth century.

  27. The Triumph of Christianity • Constantine became the first Christian emperor. • In 313 his Edict of Milan officially sanctioned tolerating Christianity.

  28. The Triumph of Christianity • Under Theodosius the Great, the Romans adopted Christianity as their official religion.